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Former New Jersey Commissioner of Health Shereef Elnahal. (Photo: New Jersey Department of Health).

Biden taps Elnahal for sub-cabinet post

Ex-N.J. Health Commissioner will be Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs

By David Wildstein, March 09 2022 11:41 am

President Joe Biden has nominated Shareef Elnahal, a former New Jersey Commissioner of Health, to serve as U.S.  Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Elnahal  is currently the president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Elnahal would be the Under Secretary for Health in the Veterans Health Administration.

The 36-year-old Atlantic County native served in the Obama administration as the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Gov. Phil Murphy nominated him to serve in his cabinet in 2018 and he led the state Department of Health for eighteen months before taking the University Hospital job.  He was the first Muslim to serve in a New Jersey governor’s cabinet.

“Everyone who has worked with Shereef, myself included, knows that President Biden has made the right choice in asking him to serve as Under Secretary for Health for the Veterans Health Administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Murphy.  “When I asked Shereef to join my administration as our first Commissioner of Health in 2018, it was because of his record in improving transparency and care for our nation’s veterans as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health.”

Elnahal led the state Department of Health for eighteen months before taking the University Hospital job.  He was the first Muslim to serve in a New Jersey governor’s cabinet.

“Both in his roles as Commissioner and as CEO of University Hospital, Shereef brought together diverse communities and put equity at the forefront of his work. Moreover, his efforts at ensuring the ability of University Hospital to serve all needing care throughout the COVID pandemic have been nothing short of herculean,” stated Murphy.  “While I am sad to see him leave New Jersey, I know that the VA and our nation’s veterans will be the better for his returning expertise and knowledge in one of the federal government’s truly consequential posts.”

Former Gov. Richard Codey praised Elnahal as “one of the greatest Health Commissioners New Jersey has ever had.”

“He is positioned to be to one of the best public health minds in the country for the next 30 or more years, ” said Codey, a state senator from Essex County.  “While I’m sad to see him leaving New Jersey, our Veterans deserve the best care and his contributions at the VA will help provide that.  I’d bet he won’t be in a sub-cabinet post for too long.”

Elnahal is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and received a joint M.D./M.B.A. from Harvard.

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